Ask Billboard is updated every Friday. Submit your burning music questions to Gary Trust at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your first and last name, as well as your city, state and country, if outside the U.S.
With Katy Perry‘s “California Gurls,” featuring Snoop Dogg, blanketing radio (and leading the Billboard Hot 100 for a third week), I was wondering what song has totaled the greatest amount of airplay in a given week? Is it “We Belong Together” by Mariah Carey?
Billboard director of charts and Hot 100 chart manager Silvio Pietroluongo notes in this week’s print issue that, with 122.5 million audience impressions, Perry’s song, the Hot 100’s Greatest Gainer/Airplay award-winner this week, passes Chingy’s “One Call Away” (121.6 million, 2004) for highest audience total for a Capitol Records title since the Hot 100 radio panel was expanded to include all formats in December 1998.
Here are the top 10 songs with the highest radio audiences, according to Nielsen BDS (listed by each title’s peak audience week). You correctly guessed the top song on the list:
Peak Audience, Title, Artist, Peak Date
212.1 million, “We Belong Together,” Mariah Carey, July 9, 2005
196.3 million, “Irreplaceable,” Beyonce, Jan. 20, 2007
192.5 million, “No One,” Alicia Keys, Dec. 22, 2007
189.6 million, “Let Me Love You,” Mario, Feb. 5, 2005
175.6 million, “Gold Digger,” Kanye West featuring Jamie Foxx, Oct. 22, 2005
172.8 million, “Yeah!,” Usher featuring Lil Jon & Ludacris, April 17, 2004
172.3 million, “My Boo,” Usher and Alicia Keys, Nov. 20, 2004
171.4 million, “Be Without You,” Mary J. Blige, April 1, 2006
170.2 million, “In Da Club,” 50 Cent, March 29, 2003
167.7 million, “Dilemma,” Nelly featuring Kelly Rowland, Sept. 7, 2002
It’s not a coincidence that the songs above all scored success at pop and R&B/hip-hop radio. As the two formats have traditionally enjoyed strong Arbitron ratings in large markets, tracks that cross over between them have a greater chance at registering the highest overall audience totals on the Radio Songs survey.
THE ‘BIONIC’ WOMAN
The 75-week reign for “The Fame” on Dance/Electronic Albums extends a chart record. Gnarls Barkley’s “St. Elsewhere” ranks second with 39 weeks on top in 2006-07.
I posed your question to Billboard’s dance chart manager Gordon Murray, who is in charge of flagging titles for the list. Here is his response:
“In a sense, yes, the album’s number of ballads excludes ‘Bionic’ from appearing on the chart.
“Madonna‘s ‘Confessions on a Dance Floor,’ for example, was allowed on the chart, but that album featured electronic production from start to finish, no ballads and was even released in a continuously-mixed version, as well.
“‘The Fame’ was a debut album by an unknown dance artist (at the time) and it contains a majority of electronically-produced dance songs. ‘Bionic’ is an album by an established pop star that contains a variety of styles – pop, dance and ballads.
“‘Bionic’ contains dance songs, but the main thrust of the album, as a whole, is not dance.”
(The following question also relates to the artist atop the genre’s album tally).THE STREAK
“Alejandro” is Lady Gaga’s seventh consecutive top 10 on the Hot 100.
Is that a record run for a new artist? The only act I could think of who may have arrived with a better streak is the Jackson 5, whose first six singles all peaked at No. 1 or 2. I also considered the Carpenters, forgetting that their first single, “Ticket to Ride,” peaked at No. 54!
All the other usual suspects – Elvis Presley, the Beatles, the Supremes, Elton John, Madonna, et. Al – seem to be disqualified for one reason or another, and, yet, I’m sure I must be forgetting someone obvious, which begs the question:
What is the record for most consecutive Hot 100 top 10s to begin a career?
Your e-mail gives me a chance to do my Jerry Seinfeld impression, since the iconic comedian has been ruing the singer’s recent salute in his luxury box at Citi Field:
“What’s the deal with Lady Gaga? Why is that her name? Last time I checked, she wasn’t acting so lady-like!”
As for your question …
Lady Gaga’s first seven officially-promoted radio singles, from “Just Dance” through “Alejandro,” have all the reached the Hot 100’s top 10. We need to make that distinction since her chart history includes three other tracks that did not reach even the chart’s top half.
“Chillin’ ” by Wale featuring Lady Gaga became her fifth Hot 100 entry, spending a week at No. 99 on the chart dated Sept. 12, 2009. On the Dec. 12, 2009, chart, two songs debuted that would peak at Nos. 65 and 94, respectively: “Video Phone,” credited to Beyonce featuring Lady Gaga, and her own “Speechless.”
Thus, while her career launch has certainly been impressive, in terms of Hot 100 archives, Lady Gaga sent her first four chart entries into the top 10.
Here are the acts that have started with the longest streaks of Hot 100 top 10s beginning with their first chart entries:
13, Lionel Richie (1981-87)
12, George Michael (1985-90)
11, Mariah Carey (1990-94)
9, New Kids on the Block (1988-90)
7, Air Supply (1980-82)
7, Taylor Dayne (1988-90)
7, Expose (1987-90)
7, Gary Lewis and the Playboys (1965-66)
7, the Lovin’ Spoonful (1965-67)
7, Richard Marx (1987-89)
7, Monica (1995-99)
7, Ricky Nelson (1958-59)
Carey came close to logging an even lengthier top 10 streak, as, after her 12th Hot 100 charted title, “Anytime You Need a Friend,” peaked at No. 12, she rebounded with top 10s in her next six visits. In all, 17 of her first 18 and 20 of her first 22 Hot 100 entries scaled the top 10.
Also notably, Madonna narrowly misses holding the record, as she fell short of the top 10 when her first Hot 100 single, “Holiday,” peaked at No. 16 in 1984. Her next 17 Hot 100 hits, however, all reached the top 10. Overall, 25 of her first 27 chart appearances resulted in top 10 peaks.
No artist has entered the top 10 with at least seven consecutive out-of-the-box Hot 100 charted titles since Monica in 1999.
In an era where album cuts can reach the chart due to even a week’s-worth of robust digital sales, it could be difficult for another artist to accomplish such a streak anytime soon.